‘Jake Allen is getting the start tonight’, a sentence that Blues fans are going to have to get used to hearing.
Let’s get this straight right now, there IS NOT a goalie controversy in St. Louis, Brian Elliott is the clear number one goalie and Allen is number two end of story.
However, when Elliott needs rest or simply isn’t performing well, head coach Ken Hitchcock has called upon the rookie Allen to start in goal for his club. Hitchcock turned to Allen several times over the Blues 10-day, six-game road trip that ended in Pittsburgh last night and he keeps getting rewarded for his stellar play.
Allen’s numbers speak for them self this season playing in 33 games he has posted 19 wins, six losses, and four overtime losses. Not bad for someone who is expected to sit on the bench most the time. He’s making huge strides and is building off a successful season in 2013-2014 which saw him play in 15 games in the NHL, posting nine wins. He spent most his time playing for the Blues AHL affiliate the Chicago Wolves, where he posted 33 wins in 52 games proving he can excel at every level.
It’s been a weird season for Allen who has played back-up, starter and back-up multiple times over the season. This pattern started happening when Elliott went down with an injury earlier in the campaign. The Blues signed future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur and we all know how that turned out. Nonetheless, Allen accepted his role and has consistently improved his game all season. His confidence has sky rocketed most notably since Elliott went to the All-Star game as a replacement.
2015 New Year = Better Numbers
In 2015, the former second round pick has eight wins in 11 starts, one loss, two overtime loses and has had three relief appearances in between. He has posted a respectable 0.921 save percentage, a 1.9 GAA, and two shutouts in the 11 starts. He has given the Blues a chance to win almost every game he has started this season which says a lot about his growth and maturity over the course of the season.
In addition, he was given back-to-back starts to end the road trip stopping 47 of the 51 shots that came his way with some highlight reel saves (the kind of you have to watch it to believe it type of saves).
His ability to read the play has been exceptional. Coming into the game against Pittsburgh it would be not only his first time playing the Penguins but Sidney Crosby and Co as well. Yet, in Jake “The Snake” fashion he didn’t let it phase him only allowing two goals on 26 shots. Games like that are what provide rookie goalies the composure and self-belief that they can keep the puck out of the net.
Most would think that Allen is getting starts because the Bluenotes are resting Elliott for the playoffs. On the other hand, if Allen continues to play this well and keeps receiving starts then in fact there is a goalie controversy in St. Louis, but for now it’s a great opportunity for him to gain more experience at the NHL level.
You riding with Jake Allen the rest of the year and into the playoffs? Holy cow, what a couple of starts by him… #stlblues
— Chris Hrabe (@chrabe) March 25, 2015
With only 8 games remaining in the regular reason it will be interesting to see how many more games Allen will see action in. The Blues are tied with the Anaheim Ducks for first in the West and still continue to push for the Presidents trophy. You never know with Ken Hitchcock, if the Notes turn to Allen right now and ride him they may be corrupting team dynamic. But if they do ride him it could be the smartest move he’s made all season.
One this is for sure, Allen is the goalie of the future in St. Louis.
The Hockey Writers is:
1) A top-tier hockey media company delivering a top-notch, in-depth look at the NHL
2) A collective of some of the best hockey writers anywhere
3) A multimedia provider with daily podcasts and YouTube shows
4) Well-respected and widely-cited NHL prospect and draft resource